MONTREAL - With a steady lead in the polls, Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois is already sketching out plans for her first weeks in office.
The pro-independence leader, who is the front-runner in the leadup to Tuesday's provincial election, says she'd take a few days to prepare a cabinet.
Then she says she would contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper about transferring powers to Quebec — in areas like employment insurance, language and communications.
"In the days that follow, in the weeks that follow, it will be a short delay, I will contact Mr. Harper," Marois told reporters while campaigning in Gatineau, Que., near Ottawa.
Marois brushed off a question about whether she would adopt a belligerent tone with Harper: "No, not at all. I will employ an attitude of respect."
The party has said it wants Quebec to have control over multiple things from copyright law to international aid funds. If Ottawa refuses, it says, that will bolster the case that Quebec and the rest of Canada must go their separate ways.
But the news in the polls isn't all good for the PQ. In fact, some of it is terrible. A CROP survey today suggests that while the PQ leads by four percentage points in the popular vote, support for the party's raison d'etre — Quebec independence — is exceptionally low at 28 per cent.
The survey indicates support for sovereignty has dropped eight percentage points during the campaign, while the number of undecideds has increased to 10 per cent and support for Canadian federalism stands at 62 per cent.
The numbers in that survey peg support for independence well below the level it was at three decades ago, when 40 per cent of Quebecers voted Yes in a 1980 referendum.
The Aug. 27-29 telephone survey of 1,002 Quebecers was published in Montreal La Presse and is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The poll also suggested just 29 per cent of Quebecers would want a referendum in a first PQ mandate — with only eight per cent very favourable to the idea.
But the reason the PQ is such a heavy favourite is its lead among francophone voters — at seven percentage points. Among francophones, the poll pegged the PQ at 37 per cent, while the new Coalition party was at 30 per cent and the Liberals were at 19 per cent.
Outside Montreal, Quebec is overwhelmingly French-speaking and support from francophones determines the result in most of the province's ridings.
Harper has not commented on the campaign and his Tories have been instructed to avoid interfering. There has been similar silence from the Opposition NDP.